Top DP leaders knew about NRM talks – Mao 

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister and also DP president general, Mr Norbert Mao, addresses the media at the party headquarters in Kampala on July 26, 2022. PHOTO | LUBOWA ABUBAKER

The Democratic Party (DP) president and Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister-designate, Mr Norbert Mao, revealed that one of the party’s top organs was briefed on the cooperation deal that was reached with the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party.

Addressing the media in Kampala yesterday, Mr Mao said he informed DP’s Management Committee because it is a constitutional body which does work on behalf of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).

“I am proud of the committee because nothing leaked for one full year and it is a surprise. DP leaders can actually manage government,” he said. 

He added: “I was very open to them. I even told them that I was in talks with President Museveni and I gave them the reason that Uganda is at a turning point and when it turns or changes what would be the position of DP.” 

However, Ms Mary Babirye Kabanda, the former Masaka District Woman MP and a member of the DP Management Committee, said she sits on all committees in the party and has never seen a draft of the cooperation agreement.

 “The Management Committee is not in our constitution but is just a working team. Such an important issue cannot be discussed in the Management Committee and you pass it because it does not have the mandate to decide on any issue,” she said.

Ms Kabanda added that the Management Committee forwards all issues to the NEC and then National Council.

“We are not refusing Mr Mao to join the ruling government but the process he used was null and void because he did not follow the right procedures and we reject the process he used to surrender our party because he does not have a right to decide for us,” she said 

Since penning the deal with President Museveni last week, Mr Mao, who is expected to be sworn in today as Justice minister, and DP secretary general Gerald Siranda have faced criticism mainly from the Opposition who have since characterised them as sell-outs. 

Last week the DP parliamentary caucus led by Dr Micheal Lulume Bayiga (Buikwe South) said the appointment of Mr Mao as Justice minister means that he has joined the Junta to fight the Opposition.

The DP Bloc also kicked Mr Mao and Mr Siranda out of the coalition.

The DP Bloc principal, Mr Samuel Lubega Mukaku, said: “For long, we have internally endured Mao’s manoeuvres and schemes to obstruct the party and the DP Bloc from taking effective and decisive actions against the NRM Junta.”  

Mr Mukaku added that the DP Bloc disassociates itself from the Mao/Museveni deal and dismissed it as an illegitimate and sham hunt for personal favours and rewards from the NRM junta.

The agenda

During yesterday’s press briefing, Mr Mao urged Ugandans not to mix up a merger and cooperation, saying a merger means becoming one while cooperation is on specific areas. 

Mr Mao also revealed that the agreement allows DP to play a key role in the issue of a peaceful presidential transition.

“We are also going to work on national dialogue because it is different from IPOD (Inter-party Organisation for Dialogue). Through dialogue everything can happen,” he said. 

Mr Mao added that the national dialogue is aimed at allowing the building blocks of Uganda to come together and craft a new consensus on how we can live together in peace. 

“The building blocks include communities, traditional institutions, political parties, religious bodies, civil societies, and people in the diaspora,” he said.

Mr Mao added that the other agenda is constitutional reforms.

“DP is a signatory of the citizens compact on free and fair elections. It is a raft of proposals that will deal with the big problems we face now known as the crisis of legitimacy and we must work on it,” he said.

About the DP Management Committee

Mr Mao said the committee, which consists of 11 members with him as chairperson, meets every Wednesday. The minimum number of people to hold the meetings is four. 

Other members of the committee include Mr Fred Mukasa Mbidde, Mr Gerald Siranda, Mr Opio Okoler, Mr Kiwanuka Mayambala, Counsel Nalukoola Luyimbazi, Mr Herbert Lutagwera, Ms Aisha Waligo, Mr Ismail Kirya, and Ms Chritine Mugerwa.